Many people have a problem of succumbing to the demands of others repeatedly and are afraid of saying no. They feel that it may hurt the other person and provoke revenge. Or, they are afraid of themselves and their own reactions in a possible conflict.
On the other hand, saying yes to others seems to be ingrained in our nature as an effective evolutionary strategy. It allowed our ancestors to support each other and jointly defend themselves from various threats. Also, a genuine yes to people and circumstances generally is a good thing, which means accepting the present moment as it is.
However, agreeing with all external requests would have been the perfect strategy if all people were genuine and honest. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Often burdened with heavy negative emotions, many individuals may behave egotistically and even cunningly toward us. If we are always naively open to their demands, they will inevitably hurt us. I am sure you are familiar with that feeling, unfortunately. Many times, all of us were betrayed or hurt unexpectedly, even by our close friends or relatives. Our life experience tells us that we should always be alert and cautious to avoid such unpleasant surprises.
The problem is that we habitually say no out from fear or anger. Also, we say yes frequently from fear or desire. So, the root of our reactions, whether “positive” or “negative” ones, is at least very questionable.
The underlying source of our reactions is our ego. Typically, we don’t respond. We react. That’s a big difference.
Saying No and Saying Yes
Therefore, if we want to learn how to genuinely say no to other people’s demands, we should examine the complementary action – saying yes. Those are the two opposites that are inseparable. Acceptance and denial, submission and refusal, agreement and dissent, yes and no; they are two sides of the coin. They must be taken into consideration together.
Only from the state of Pure Consciousness, we can respond genuinely to every challenge. Pure Consciousness, or Presence, will truly enable us to either accept or refuse the requests of others. On the other hand, if we are burdened by thoughts and emotions, our choices will be clouded and distorted. The genuine decisions are made only from the state of Presence, the thoughtless state of mind.
However, even if we learn to live in the here and now, to be mindful most of the time, we still could react improperly in numerous circumstances. Some persons or occasions may easily kick us out from the state of Presence. Their actions or mere appearance could trigger our previously suppressed emotions such as anger, fear, or sorrow, so our reaction to their requirements will not be genuine. Whether that reaction is submission or refusal, it will not be authentic. In the long run, its consequences will be suffering.
The genuine decisions are made only from the state of Presence, the thoughtless state of mind.
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